German institute disinvites Mohammad El-Kurd from anti-fascist forum
The German Goethe-Institut canceled an invitation sent out to Palestinian activist Mohammad El-Kurd on the grounds that he had made comments against the Israeli occupation, which the institute said went against its views.
The German Goethe-Institut canceled an invitation sent out to Palestinian activist Mohammad El-Kurd on Friday to a conference entitled "Beyond the Lone Offender – Dynamics of the Global Right" over El-Kurd's anti-Israeli occupation comments.
In a new act of anti-Palestinian racism by Germany, the Goethe-Institut disinvited Palestinian poet, and writer Mohammad El-Kurd from a roundtable titled “Selling Fascism? Remembering the Unsold”. pic.twitter.com/Zm9IlSz7qS— PALESTINE ONLINE 🇵🇸 (@OnlinePalEng) June 18, 2022
El-Kurd was meant to be featured as a speaker at the conference designated to "focus on the impact of far-right movements and their global entanglements", according to Goethe-Institut.
"After some consideration, the Goethe-Institut decided that Mohammad El-Kurd was not an appropriate speaker for this forum: in previous posts on social media, he had made several comments about Israel in a way the Goethe-Institut does not find acceptable," the institute said on Twitter.
El-Kurd was going to speak at a roundtable that is part of the three-day event, which is titled "Selling Fascism? Remembring the Unsold", and the cancellation of his invitation sparked outrage among activists and social media users alike.
Goethe-Institut was bombarded with condemnations, with people pointing out the fascist nature of the Israeli occupation and how the disinvitation contradicted the purpose of the roundtable.
"Not only does Goethe-Institut’s decision imply that the institution considers one of the most renowned writers, human rights activists, and poets of our times unable to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the right-wing violence that he is threatened by as a Palestinian," one of the curators of the conference, Sinthujan Varatharajah, said on Twitter in response to the institute's decision, "Goethe-Institut also explicitly decides that the violence that affects Palestinians may not be named and discussed in a program on the dynamics of the global right in Germany, effectively devaluing Palestinian oppression as unworthy of discussion."
He underlined that the roundtable was supposed to "facilitate critical conversations with writers, thinkers, and filmmakers around contemporary technological and marketing strategies used by different states to deflect from human rights abuses."
Varatharajah also accused the institute of "structural[ly] silencing] Palestinian intellectuals such as El-Kurd, wondering what were the benefits of a conference that right-wing violence "when the principal organizer [...] enforces preemptive censorship out of fear to receive racist and reactionary backlash."
He further accused the institute, primarily financed by the German Foreign Office, of intentionally deplatforming Palestinian activists and adding to a climate of racism against Palestinians.
Check out: Germany’s crackdown on Palestinian activity
"This calls into question the political conviction of the Institute in facilitating a fair debate on such matters. This cannot be tolerated or supported by us in any way."
Underlining his solidarity with Palestine and the Palestinian cause, Varatharajah, along with co-curator Moshtari Hilal, announced that he was withdrawing from the conference as a curator in protest of the anti-Palestinian decision.
"Our cancellation is in response to Goethe-Institut’s attempts to intervene in our curatorial decisions and by way of it, enforce a climate of anti-Palestinian censorship," he added in his Twitter thread.
This is not the first act of Germany censoring Palestinian activity against the Israeli occupation, with German police canceling a pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli aggression rally meant to be held in late April in commemoration of World Quds Day.
The organizers of the demonstration told Al Mayadeen that they were surprised to hear the rally was banned, particularly since the reasons mentioned by the German police are illogical and illegal, owing to pressure from the Zionist lobby in Germany.
Just days ahead of the cancelation, a German-Palestinian scholar, who was barred from appearing at a 2019 panel after a dossier portraying her as "anti-Semitic" and a "terrorist sympathizer" was shared with organizers, has launched a lawsuit against the state-funded organization purportedly behind the dossier.
In February, German state media Deutsche Welle dismissed a Palestinian journalist Maram Salem after a German journalist published a report accusing her of "anti-Semitism" and being "anti-Israel" in reference to her Facebook posts.
However, this dismissal did not end with Maram but also stretched onto Palestinian-Jordanian journalist Farah Maraqa, who tweeted that she received a notice, without any explanation, saying she is fired from DW on similar grounds. Basil Al-Aridi, Daoud Ibrahim, and Murhaf Mahmoud have also become the victims of an Israeli-sponsored media purge, as they had also been laid off.
On Thursday, the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts canceled a lecture on the Palestinian cause following protests from pro-"Israel" groups. More than 370 artists and cultural workers signed an open letter denouncing the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Wien (Mumok) for canceling a lecture titled "Queering Aesthesis: Unsettling the Zionist Sensual Regime." Judith Butler, Sam Durrant, and Slavoj Zizek are among the signatories, as are activist and novelist Angela Davis and artist Ali Yass.